Are Potato Chips And French Fries About To Get Healthier?

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Snack lovers, rejoice: Munching on potato chips just got a little healthier.

Four food manufacturers agreed to reduce levels of a cancer-causing chemical in their potato chips and french fries under a settlement announced Friday by the state attorney general's office.

California sued H.J. Heinz Co., Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance Inc. in 2005, alleging they violated a state requirement that companies post warning labels on products with carcinogens.

The companies avoided trial by agreeing to pay a combined $3 million in fines and reduce the levels of acrylamide in their products over three years, officials said.

"Other companies should follow this lead," Attorney General Jerry Brown said, calling the settlement "a victory for public health."

Acrylamide forms naturally when starchy foods are baked or fried. Studies have shown the chemical, which also has industrial uses, causes cancer in lab animals and nerve damage to workers who are exposed to high levels. The Food and Drug Administration is researching whether acrylamide in food poses a health risk.

"Everybody's trying to figure out how to lower levels (of acrylamide) without significantly, adversely affecting taste," said Michele Corish, an attorney for Lance, which produces Cape Cod chips.

Corish said the modified snacks will be available nationwide. Messages left with the other three companies were not immediately returned Friday night.

The attorney general's office said the levels of acrylamide in most Cape Cod chips are already near the compliance level as defined by the settlement. However, Brown said Cape Cod Robust Russets contain 25 times the acceptable amount.

Corish said "Robust Russets" chips are no longer being sold.

According to the terms of the settlement, Frito-Lay, which is owned by PepsiCo Inc. and produces most of the chips sold in California, will pay $1.5 million and chip-maker Kettle Foods will pay $350,000 in penalties. Heinz, which produces frozen fries and tater tots, agreed to pay $600,000. Lance will pay $95,000.

The state also sued McDonald's Corp.; Wendy's International Inc.; Burger King Corp.; KFC, a subsidiary of Yum Brands Inc.; and Procter & Gamble Co. over acrylamide levels in 2005. Those lawsuits were settled after the companies agreed to either properly label their products or lower levels of the chemical.

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  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Aug 5, 2008 at 02:49 PM
    To What; No it is not an alias. It is my first initial and last name. We are not having a SQUABBLE anyway.
  • by What? Location: GVegas on Aug 5, 2008 at 07:13 AM
    umm not to get into yall's scuabble but VBush IS an alias as well??
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Aug 3, 2008 at 04:42 PM
    voter; What do you think you are, the Statue of Liberty? :)
  • by voter Location: nc on Aug 3, 2008 at 03:29 PM
    vbush; and have the huddled masses flock to my doorstep seeking wisdom and knowledge? nawww, i'm much to humble.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Aug 3, 2008 at 01:05 PM
    To:Voter, MHCY is Morehead City. I am glad you are proud. You should make me proud and not use an alias when posting.
  • by voter Location: nc on Aug 3, 2008 at 12:36 PM
    jeez vbush,,,you're so cynical. you make me proud. what's MHCY?
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Aug 3, 2008 at 09:57 AM
    More litigation and expenses paid because people cannot take responsibility for their own choices and actions. Chalk up another victory for 'Big Brother' and the 'Nanny State'. Everyone will be screaming about jobs again when these companies move to other countries to produce their products because they have been regulated and fined right out of the USA. When are people going to take responsibility for their own actions and choices? As long as we continue to placate these environmental tofu eating wack jobs we will continue to lose in the long run. If you don't like a product...don't buy it! When a product no longer sells it will go away. If there is continued demand for it...well I hope you get the point. I would imagine that most of the preservatives and other things that go into todays foods are probably bad for us. Maybe we should all return to growing our own food naturally in the back yard and put the grocery stores out of business for selling us food.

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